According to two recent reports published by Health Protection Scotland, there has been a substantial rise in the number of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) diagnosed in Scotland between 2017 and 2018.
Genital chlamydia was the most commonly diagnosed STI in Scotland with 16,338 diagnoses in 2018, a 4 per cent higher than in 2017. Women accounted for 58 per cent of all diagnoses and individuals aged
A total of 3233 cases of gonorrhoea were diagnosed in 2018, a 24 per cent higher than the previous year. It was also the highest annual total recorded since the mid-1980s. Men accounted for three-quarters of the diagnoses, of whom 60 per cent were aged ≥25 years. Since 2013, a staggering 103 per cent rise in total gonorrhoea diagnoses and a 121 per cent rise in male gonorrhoea diagnoses, particularly in men who have sex with men (MSM), has been observed. There are strong concerns regarding high-level resistance to azithromycin observed in gonococcal isolates in Scotland.
The number of infectious syphilis cases rose by 14% between 2017 and 2018 and the annual total is the highest ever recorded since 2002-2003 when the surveillance system was set up. The impact of the pre-exposure prophylaxis programme on the incidence of HIV and STI is currently being monitored.
These findings underscore the increasing rates of unprotected sexual intercourse, especially among MSM. An organised public health response will be required to tackle the barriers in control and prevention of STIs in Scotland.